0 Drop zone sides sweat

Wellstream NTSL clubs head into the last weekend of the season with many fearing last week's torrential downpours and flooding will lead to cancellations tomorrow.

With harassed groundsmen unable to work on saturated surfaces for more than a week, preparation time has been minimal - and not surprisingly a number of games are under threat.

Most teams are unworried the final Saturday of the season could be affected as they have little left to play for, but not so for the two sides battling to the very end to avoid the drop into Division A2.

Only one point separates Benwell and Walbottle, who currently occupy the dreaded second relegation slot, and Newcastle City.

Both finish their programme with home games, so there will be feverish activity on their grounds to try and ensure the matches go ahead.

Benwell secretary George Gilroy set the scene for his club's game with Annfield Plain when he said: "Last week's weather has taken a tremendous toll, and it is going to be touch and go for tomorrow.

"We have covers across the whole of the square, and the ground is on a slight slope so drains reasonably well.

"However, it is still totally saturated and will not be able to take too much more rain.

"With only one point between us it is a shame so much hinges on the weather, but if we do play we are confident we can do well.

"We have risen from the depths several times in the last few years and can do so again.

"A lot hinges on our professional Anirudh Singh, but he seems to enjoy playing Annfield Plain judging by his record against them.

"We will have our normal side out and one thing I am sure of - the telephone lines will be buzzing all afternoon between here and Newcastle as we follow events.

City's Bob Brar is also upbeat ahead of his sides home game with Lintz.

He said: "The ground is soggy, but the forecast seems OK, and one thing is for sure, we will be working flat out to try and ensure we play.

"All we can do is try and play to our best, and I am certain we are focused and ready.

"We will have the same team as last week plus Ramanpreet Singh, who has been released for the match by the Durham Academy.'

However, City will not find Lintz ready to lie down, as their skipper Gary Christie explained.

He said: "We are able to name an unchanged side and it is nice to be involved in a game where there is something at stake."

Division A1: Ashington v Tynedale, Backworth v Shotley Bridge, Benwell and Walbottle v Annfield Plain, Newcastle City v Lintz, Ryton v Swalwell, Sacriston v Leadgate.

Division A2: Alnwick v Lanchester, Cowgate v Greenside, Morpeth v Chopwell, Percy Main v Burnopfield, Seaton Burn v Ponteland, Whickham v Consett.

Source:-Evening Chronicle

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